The best budget backyard ideas for summer 2021

These budget-friendly backyard ideas will transform your outdoor space into your own personal oasis

backyard ideas
(Image credit: IKEA)

While this summer is certainly poised to be more exciting than the uncertainty of last year, chances are pretty good that most of us will still be spending a lot more time at home than we would have pre-pandemic. But that doesn’t mean that the summer has to be a wash—in fact, prepping your outdoor space accordingly will ensure everyone in your household has a fun and stress-free summer even if it’s spent close to home.

Looking for budget-friendly outdoor ideas to add some pizzazz to your backyard? We’ve got you covered—and then some. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best outdoor ideas that will transform your backyard into your own personal oasis—from patio ideas to garden design tips—all of which are comfortably under $100.

From getting creative with pallets to swapping out your usual flower beds, these affordable solutions will save you cash while making your outdoor space somewhere you really want to be.

Consider a temporary above ground pool

stock tank pool

(Image credit: Hey Wanderer)

A temporary above ground pool, like a stock tank pool, is a great way to add some life to your backyard without investing a ton of capital (or backyard space). This allows you to skip the extra landscaping and maintenance and get right to cooling off and chilling out at home.

Make pallet patio furniture

Pallet garden seating

(Image credit: Homebase)

Pallet furniture is a great option if you’re hoping to add seating to your backyard or patio without shelling out a ton of cash. It’s super easy to build and structure and actually looks really stylish with the right cushions and outdoor pillows. The best part? It’s basically free if you’re patient enough to scroll through your local online marketplace.

Add curtains to a deck to create an outdoor room

backyard ideas

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Adding in a layer of privacy is an ideal solution for city patios or decks that get hit with intense afternoon sun. Not only does it look great from the patio, it actually feels like you’ve gained an extra room.

Use an outdoor rug to cover up a dated patio

patio ideas

(Image credit: Audenza)

Dealing with an older rental patio? Sometimes that means dated concrete or other material that might not be in the best condition (or the most aesthetically pleasing). Here’s an easy fix for that: cover it up with an outdoor rug! You don’t have to worry about getting custom dimensions or a larger, more expensive rug, either—just pick up a few small ones and layer them to create an interesting pattern.

Use string lights to create a moody atmosphere for less

Outdoor string lights from Walmart

(Image credit: Wamart)

Glaringly bright outdoor patio light fixtures can be hard on the eyes, or worse, attract mosquitoes and moths come night time. Instead of sitting in the dark or dealing with harsh built-in lighting, consider opting for a couple strands of string lights or Edison bulbs. Not only are they inexpensive, they’re soft enough to set the right mood (without attracting any bugs).

Replace grass with mulch or gravel to minimize lawn maintenance (and water usage)

backyard ideas

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Having healthy grass is great when you have little ones playing in the backyard—but it’s a lot of maintenance if you only really use your backyard for the fire pit or barbecue. Instead of having to worry about lawn maintenance or unnecessary water usage, consider replacing your grass with mulch or gravel for a more zen, sophisticated, and budget-friendly alternative.

Opt for perennials instead of annuals

Perennial shade plants

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp / Getty)

Gardening seems like a wonderfully calming pass time—until you actually have a garden of your own! In reality, it’s a whole lot of work and can easily become a very expensive hobby. That’s not to say that you should forgo gardening all together but opting for perennials (which come back on their own every year) rather than annuals (which only last the one season), is a budget-friendly way to enjoy a lush backyard without adding more work than necessary.

Consider making DIY planters

backyard ideas

(Image credit: IKEA)

A small patio or deck can just as easily become a tropical oasis—especially if you’re willing to get creative with pots and planters. If you’re hoping to grow your own veggies or plant flowers on your porch, start saving your tin cans, candle pots, and coffee containers—these all make surprisingly aesthetically pleasing planters that can easily withstand the outdoors.

Consider adding a hammock

Vivere Double Brazilian Fringe Hammock

(Image credit: Vivere)

Craving a zen space to kick back and relax? A simple, no-frills hammock is a really underestimated item to consider adding to your deck or patio. It doesn’t take up much space, is easy to set up or remove, and it offers the perfect spot to kick back and enjoy some sun (or shade).

Build your own trellis

backyard ideas

(Image credit: Wayfair)

A trellis is an easy and relatively budget-friendly way to add some visual interest to a backyard or garden. Consider picking up a pre-made trellis or flex your DIY skills by building your own with a couple of 4x4s and some lattice.

Consider adding a water feature

backyard ideas

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Whether you’re longing to lounge by a pool or you’re hoping to add some visual interest to your patio, a small water feature is an easy and affordable way to add some zest to your outdoor living space. You can pick up a small fountain or humming bird watering hole for under $50—or you can get creative and attempt to design your own using items like tin buckets, watering cans, or even recycled wine bottles.

Set up a backyard theatre

backyard ideas

(Image credit: IKEA)

A backyard movie theatre might not seem like the most budget-friendly option but you’d be surprised by how economical it can be. All you really need is a white sheet or plain vertical space, a few outdoor cushions, and a projector. Happily, these days, even some of the best outdoor projectors are quite affordable and will run you less than $100.

Kaitlyn McInnis
Kaitlyn McInnis

Kaitlyn is an experienced travel and lifestyle writer with a keen interest in interior decorating and home optimization. An avid traveler, she's currently splitting her time between her apartment in a century-old châteauesque building in Montreal and her cozy chalet in the woods (that she built with her own two hands... and many YouTube tutorials!). Her work has been published in Travel + Leisure, Tatler Asia, Forbes, Robb Report Singapore, and various other international publications.